In Cat in the Rain by Ernest Hemingway we have the theme of discontent, struggle, selfishness, helplessness, loneliness, conflict and insecurity. Taken from his The Complete Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and one of the most interesting things about the story is how Hemingway shifts from calling the wife, the American wife to then calling her the girl. This shift from American wife to girl serves to highlight the insecurity that the American wife feels. Possibly driven by her desire to live a normal life rather than living out of a hotel. If anything throughout the story the American wife remains discontent or unhappy with her life. Something that is noticeable by her wanting so many changes in her life. It is also noticeable that she calls the cat a kitty for a large portion of the story. Some readers would find this unusual. For a woman to use a word for an animal that is more associated with a child using it. Which would further suggest a child-like quality within the American wife.
The American wife’s relationship with George is also interesting and may be going nowhere or may actually lack any type of change. Something that is symbolically noticeable by the lack of movement made by George throughout the story. He remains in the same place, lying on the bed. George also doesn’t appear to take his wife’s needs or wants seriously. Something that is noticeable when he tells her to ‘shut up and get something to read.’ This line may be important as it suggests that the wife is being controlled by George or at least he views his wife’s wishes or desires to be impractical, unrealistic or unimportant. It may also be possible that George is being selfish and not giving his wife any consideration at all. It may also be important that Hemingway mentions the square outside the hotel as being empty. In many ways this emptiness mirrors how the American wife feels. Also the fact that it is raining adds a further sense of isolation or loneliness to the story. Again mirroring how the American wife feels. The fact that Hemingway doesn’t introduce any other visitors to the hotel also serves to further heighten or highlight the sense of loneliness that the American wife feels. Though there are other guests in the hotel neither the American wife nor George know any of them which would also suggest an isolation from others.
The title of the story may also be symbolic. In many ways the cat that the American wife sees underneath the table in the rain mirrors the American wife herself. She too feels helpless throughout the story. She too is as vulnerable as the cat in the rain reliant on her husband to provide for her. If anything she is as trapped as the cat. Something that is noticeable when she goes back to her hotel room and lists some things that she would like – eat at a table with her own silver – wanting candles – wanting a cat. All these things are very normal for most people. However because the American wife appears to be living out of hotel rooms she is unable to obtain any of these things. If anything she may be as alone as the cat underneath the table. The fact that we never learn the American wife’s name, yet we know her husband’s name may also be important as by calling her either a wife or a girl Hemingway manages to take away her identity. Just as the reader never knows her name likewise the American wife never really knows who she is till later in the story when she lists the things she would like. Which in many ways goes to define or identify her.
It may also be important that Hemingway on three separate occasions mentions the war monument in the square. By doing so he may be using the monument to not only highlight the conflict that existed in WWI but also the internal conflict that exists for the American wife. It is also interesting that after the American wife lists all the things she would like, Hemingway reverts back to calling her the wife. This shift may be important as it suggests that the American wife knows who she is and also knows what she wants. No longer is she as insecure or helpless as she had previously been in the story. It is also noticeable that she begins to use the word cat again rather than kitty. Which would further suggest a return to maturity (or security) for the American wife. She is precise about what she is looking for even if George doesn’t think her needs are important.
The end of the story is also interesting as Hemingway changes the setting in the story while the wife is looking out the window ‘the light had come on in the square.’ No longer is the American wife symbolically in the dark. Again she is more secure in herself despite George having told her to shut up. What is also interesting is that Hemingway by introducing another cat into the story allows for the American wife to be happy or to move forward. She now has one of the things that she has been looking for which may suggest she is moving forward. Unlike George who throughout the story has remained lying on the bed. In many ways his life has not changed but his wife’s life may be about to change.
McManus, Dermot. "Cat in the Rain by Ernest Hemingway." The Sitting Bee. The Sitting Bee, 24 Apr. 2016. Web.
Show MoreMarriage in Ernest Hemingway's Cat in the Rain
In today's society, people have the assumptions that we have evolved far beyond past cultural notions and marital stereotypes. The reality to this is that we are not so superior and tend to take the easy way out in relationships. This is reflected through our atrocious divorce rate. The American wife in Ernest Hemingway's 'Cat in the Rain,' although controlled by her husband, George, is an obvious victim of marital neglect. While vacationing in Italy, the romance capital of the world, George's use of control and carelessness cause the wife to focus on a stray cat for fulfillment.
Although the couple is on a romantic vacation, George proceeds to neglect his wife. This is…show more content…
While she very well can be an attention whore, the American wife?s extreme need for notice is a direct result of George?s inability to pay her the attention of which she thrives.
Even though George is a neglectful husband, his controlling nature is of the sort that denies her many of her wants, needs, and desires. Many things in the American wife?s life are not as she wishes them to be. She would like to have longer hair as well new clothes, silver, and candles. Some would suggest that these needs are just superficial and material needs, that they hold no relevance into the fact that she is ignored. On the contrary, her inability to obtain these things or to be allowed these things reflect the domineering traits George possesses. Sometimes when a spouse is controlling over his counterpart, it is because of a fear of losing their significant other. That somehow if George?s wife were to have long hair she would look a lot prettier, making him more vulnerable to the fact she could leave him. Another reason for George not to allow his wife to grow her hair when she confesses that she is ?so tired of looking like a boy?(534) is because he wants her to look as though she is not truly a woman, more of an immature object whom he has control over. As she continues to describe her longing to look like a girl, with long hair with ?a big knot at the back that I can feel?(535) and her desires for ?a kitty and some new clothes?(535) George simply orders her to ?shut up and get